Heather Ford

Heather Ford
University of Technology Sydney | UTS · School of Communication

Doctor of Philosophy

About

35
Publications
13,344
Reads
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537
Citations
Citations since 2017
12 Research Items
453 Citations
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Introduction
I am a digital ethnographer passionate about how the Internet and digital technologies can be developed to serve principles of global solidarity, knowledge equality and democratic governance. Today I work as an Associate Professor at the School of Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) where I am Head of Discipline for Digital and Social Media. With a background as an activist for internet rights and free and open source software and content, I now focus on implications for

Publications

Publications (35)
Preprint
Full-text available
This chapter focuses on the accountability of platforms – a key question for researchers of digital politics. We set out a research agenda for answering the question of how platform power is held accountable that is both empirical and normative. Empirically, we emphasize the need to trace how accountability actually operates in practice. What accou...
Article
News media organisations are experimenting with a new generation of newsbots that move beyond automated headline delivery to the delivery of news according to a conversational format within the context of private messaging services. To build the newsbot, journalists craft statements and answers to users’ questions that mimic a natural conversation...
Article
Full-text available
Chapter
This chapter investigates the use of social media as a channel of communication between citizens and government. It draws on the concept of ‘listening’ in democratic communication (Couldry, N., Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2010; Dobson, A., Listening for Democracy: Recognition, Representation,...
Article
Full-text available
Workshops are used to explore a specific topic, to transfer knowledge, to solve identified problems, or to create something new. In funded research projects and other research endeavours, workshops are the mechanism used to gather the wider project, community, or interested people together around a particular topic. However, natural questions arise...
Article
Full-text available
p>Workshops are used to explore a specific topic, to transfer knowledge, to solve identified problems, or to create something new. In funded research projects and other research endeavours, workshops are the mechanism used to gather the wider project, community, or interested people together around a particular topic. However, natural questions ari...
Preprint
Full-text available
Workshops are used to explore a specific topic, transfer knowledge, solve identified problems or create something new. In funded research projects and other research endeavours, workshops are the mechanism to gather the wider project, community or interested people together around a particular topic. However, natural questions arise: how do we meas...
Preprint
Full-text available
In order to counter systemic bias in peer production projects like Wikipedia, a variety of strategies have been used to fill gaps and improve the completeness of the archive. We test a number of these strategies in a project aimed at improving articles relating to South Africa’s primary school curriculum and find that many of the predominant strate...
Article
Full-text available
In order to counter systemic bias in peer production projects like Wikipedia, a variety of strategies have been used to fill gaps and improve the completeness of the archive. We test a number of these strategies in a project aimed at improving articles relating to South Africa’s primary school curriculum and find that many of the predominant strate...
Article
Full-text available
Feminist STS has long established that science’s provenance as a male domain continues to define what counts as knowledge and expertise. Wikipedia, arguably one of the most powerful sources of information today, was initially lauded as providing the opportunity to rebuild knowledge institutions by providing greater representation of multiple groups...
Article
Feminist STS has long established that science’s provenance as a male domain continues to define what counts as knowledge and expertise. Wikipedia, arguably one of the most powerful sources of information today, was initially lauded as providing the opportunity to rebuild knowledge institutions by providing greater representation of multiple groups...
Chapter
Wikipedia has become an authoritative source for facts about the world. It promises to be working towards reflecting “the sum of all human knowledge” in 288 languages. Every day, however, thousands of contributions to Wikipedia are rejected. A large proportion of those whose contributions are rejected remain silent on Wikipedia’s platform. In this...
Article
Full-text available
We highlight the origins and consequences of the loss of provenance information in the context of the contemporary moment in which the web is being significant re-engineered. What first appears to be merely a simple engineering problem turns out to be indicative of the growing commercialization of the web, a problem that stems from the dominance of...
Article
WikiEdits bots are a class of Twitter bot that announce edits made by Wikipedia users editing under government IP addresses, with the goal of making government editing activities more transparent. This paper examines the characteristics and impact of transparency bots, bots that make visible the edits of institutionally-affiliated individuals by re...
Article
Full-text available
Wikipedia turns fifteen As Wikipedia celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year, many will applaud the project's phenomenal growth in scale and authority in such a relatively short amount of time. With 250 language versions and 500 million users a month, Wikipedia is now the seventh biggest website in the world (Alexa, 2016).
Article
Full-text available
As Wikipedia celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year, many will applaud the project’s phenomenal growth in scale and authority in such a relatively short amount of time. With 250 language versions and 500 million users a month, Wikipedia is now the seventh biggest website in the world (Alexa, 2016). Sheer numbers, however, do not fully capture...
Chapter
Full-text available
In order to understand how the city's contested political contexts are embedded into its digital layers, we traced how the city is represented on online platforms that house facts about much of the world. We did this by analyzing representations of Jerusalem across the Arabic, Hebrew and English versions of Wikipedia (working with a translator on t...
Thesis
Full-text available
Wikipedia is no longer just another source of knowledge about the world. It is fast becoming a central source, used by other powerful knowledge brokers like Google and Bing to offer authoritative answers to search queries about people, places and things and as information infrastructure for a growing number of Web applications and services. Researc...
Article
Full-text available
The current communications environment is characterized by a complex and hybrid system. Individuals use multiple digital platforms in various ways to communicate politically. This presents both theoretical and methodological challenges. As a response, we propose trace interviewing, an actor-centric method that employs visualizations of a user's dig...
Conference Paper
Localness is an oft-cited benefit of volunteered geographic information (VGI). This study examines whether localness is a constant, universally shared benefit of VGI, or one that varies depending on the context in which it is produced. Focusing on articles about geographic entities (e.g. cities, points of interest) in 79 language editions of Wikipe...
Article
Wikipedians use a number of editorial elements, including infoboxes and cleanup tags to coordinate work in the first stage of articles related to breaking news topics. When inserted into an article, these objects are intended to simultaneously notify editors about missing or weak elements of the article and to add articles to particular categories...
Article
Full-text available
In the past three years, Heather Ford—an ethnographer and now a PhD student—has worked on ad hoc collaborative projects around Wikipedia sources with two data scientists from Minnesota, Dave Musicant and Shilad Sen. In this essay, she talks about how the three met, how they worked together, and what they gained from the experience. Three themes bec...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We ask what kinds of sources Wikipedians value most and compare Wikipedia's stated policy on sources to what we observe in practice. We find that primary data sources developed by alternative publishers are both popular and persistent, despite policies that present such sources as inferior to scholarly secondary sources. We also find that Wikipedia...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Editing Wikipedia is certainly not as simple as learning the MediaWiki syntax and knowing where the "edit" bar is, but how do we conceptualize the cultural and organizational understandings that make an effective contributor? We draw on work of literacy practitioner and theorist Richard Darville to advocate a multi-faceted theory of literacy that s...
Article
How is a Wikipedia article different from a news article about the 2011 Egyptian revolution at different points in the story’s evolution? What are the roles of social media and other Internet sources in rapidly evolving articles? And what, really, is Wikipedia’s working perspective on social media sources? This report tells the story of Wikipedia s...
Article
Full-text available
As part of the CPOV project with the Institute of Network Cultures, we published a Wikipedia reader titled Critical Point of View. The Reader is edited by Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz. The essays, interviews and artworks brought together in this reader form part of the overarching Critical Point of View research initiative, which began with a c...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present results on a study of two levels of Wikipedia's article deletion process: speedy deletions (or CSDs) and articles for deletions (or AfDs). Our findings indicate that the deletion process is heavily frequented by a relatively small number of longstanding users. In analyzing the rationales given for such deletions, it is apparent that the...
Book
Full-text available
GISWatch 2009 focuses on access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy. It includes several thematic reports dealing with key issues in the field, as well as an institutional overview and a reflection on indicators that track access to information and knowledge. There is also an innovative section on visual mappi...
Article
"One of the goals of the Commons-sense Project is to conduct research that helps equip African activists and decision-makers with the information they need to develop cutting edge, relevant intellectual property policies and practices. We decided to begin with a map – a map that hopefully presents a broad picture of how far we’ve already come in Af...

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